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Understanding first year university students: personal epistemology and learning


Walker, S and Brownlee, J and Lennox, S and Exley, B and Howells, K and Cocker, F, Understanding first year university students: personal epistemology and learning, Teaching Education, 20, (3) pp. 243-256. ISSN 1047-6210 (2009) [Refereed Article]

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The definitive published version is available online at:

DOI: doi:10.1080/10476210802559350


Whilst participation in higher education has increased dramatically over the last two decades, many universities are only now beginning to pay more attention to the learning experiences of first year students. It is important for universities to understand how first year students conceive of learning and knowing in order to promote effective approaches to learning. Even though an extensive body of research demonstrates that beliefs about learning and knowing influence student approaches to learning and learning outcomes, there has been no Australian research that has investigated this critical learner characteristic across first year university students. This paper reports on preliminary data from an ongoing longitudinal study designed to investigate first year students' beliefs about knowing and learning (epistemological beliefs). Students from teacher education and creative industry faculties in two Australian universities completed the Epistemological Beliefs Survey (EBS) in the first week of their first semester of study. A series of one-way ANOVA using key demographics as independent variables and the EBS factor scores as dependent variables showed that epistemological beliefs were related to the course of study, previous post-school education experience, family experience at university, gender, and age. These data help us to understand students' beliefs about learning and knowing with a view to informing effective learning in higher education.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:personal epistemology, first year experience, epistemological beliefs, teacher education
Research Division:Education
Research Group:Education systems
Research Field:Higher education
Objective Division:Education and Training
Objective Group:Learner and learning
Objective Field:Learner and learning not elsewhere classified
UTAS Author:Howells, K (Dr Kerry Howells)
UTAS Author:Cocker, F (Dr Fiona Cocker)
ID Code:61009
Year Published:2009
Deposited By:Education
Deposited On:2010-02-24
Last Modified:2015-03-05

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